Would You, Could You in a Box? (Write, That Is.)

Julie Salamon in the New York Times:

Novelsldiedone_1On Saturday night, in front of 200 onlookers, Ms. Stone and two other novelists, ensconced in neighboring pods, embarked on a variation of the spectator sports made familiar by reality television. Ms. Stone, Ranbir Sidhu and Grant Bailie are the participants in “Novel: A Living Installation” at the Flux Factory, an artists’ collective in Long Island City. The goal is for each to complete a novel by June 4. The purpose is to consider the private and public aspects of writing.

No cameras will record this voyeuristic experiment, though visitors can peep occasionally (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m). The potential for public humiliation comes not from the perils of constant surveillance, but from the more familiar writers’ problem of failing to meet a deadline. Make that deadlines. They will give weekly readings of their works in progress on Saturdays at 8 p.m., and take part in two public discussions scheduled for this coming Sunday and May 22.

What the novelists write is not as important as how they live while they are writing. Each habitat was designed by builders who, like the writers, entered a competition. The writers can emerge for only 90 minutes a day and must record on time cards the reason for their absence (laundry, bathroom, snacks). Each evening they will gather together to eat a meal cooked by a chef from a local restaurant…

The idea for “Novel” came to Morgan Meis, 32, a founder and the president of Flux Factory, as he was trying to finish his dissertation on the Marxist philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin, and his theories of experience. “I said I should do a project called ‘Dissertation’ where I lock myself in a box” and just finish the thing, Mr. Meis said.

Instead, he staged this show, together with Kerry Downey, 25, a fellow Fluxer. They put out notices on various Web sites, at graduate schools and architecture firms. Two hundred writers and a dozen designers applied.

Read the rest of the article, and also see a nice slide show, here. And there is more by Jeremy Olshan in the New York Post (registration required):

Cervantes penned most of “Don Quixote” in the pen. Dostoevsky found inspiration in incarceration.

In the tradition of those literary inmates, three novelists locked themselves in a Queens art gallery Saturday, with a self-imposed sentence of 30 days and 75,000 words — give or take a few paragraphs off for good behavior.

Grant Bailie, Laurie Stone and Ranbir Sidhu must complete an entire novel each, while being confined to individual “habitats” — a k a artsy cells — in the Flux Factory in Long Island City

Continue reading here.  There’s also a piece in The Village Voice here.

[Disclosure: Morgan Meis is a 3 Quarks Daily editor, and I am on the advisory board of the Flux Factory.]